If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (ESV)
How is God just in forgiving my unrighteous acts, my sin? I don’t deserve it. I deserve death. I didn’t earn it. My good deeds can never tip the scales in my favor. I believe the apostle Paul answered that question.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26 ESV)
We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. In fact, that is what sin is; a falling short of God’s glory. We do not deserve God’s forgiveness. The question Paul was seeking to answer in Romans 3 was “How could a holy righteous God forgive unholy unrighteous people who deserve his wrath for spurning or falling short of his glory?” His answer was, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood. Propitiation is the absorbing of wrath. As Jesus hung on the cross he took the blows of an atoning victim and absorbed the wrath of God for our sin. It was the cup of God’s wrath that Jesus spoke of in the garden when he said, “Let this cup pass from me.”
God is just to forgive us because his son absorbed the wrath due us for our sin and with his blood paid the debt we owned for our sin. The wages of our sin was death, so Jesus died. And the blood he shed on the cross was the blood of the new covenant. Jesus said so himself on the night when he was betrayed he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ESV)
In Old Testament times the priests would offer animal sacrifices to atone for the sins of God’s people. Jesus also, as our high priest, offered up a sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sins of God’s people. In fact, he was both the offerer and the sacrifice. And by his sacrifice he became the mediator of a new covenant (Hebrews 9:11-15). Because the priesthood of Jesus is an everlasting priesthood he is also the guarantor of a better covenant (Hebrews 7:22).
Someone had to pay for our sins in order for God to be just in forgiving us. God had to vindicate his righteousness. This God accomplished by sending his son. God is just to forgive us of all unrighteousness because the blood of Jesus cleanses from sin all those who walk in his light (1 John 1:7).
Are you cleansed from your sin? Do you regularly give thanks to Jesus for his sacrifice?
Scriptures for meditation:
1 John 4:10